In the heart of Pennsylvania, not far from Williamsport, Lycoming County boasts a rich tapestry of history as well as some unique historical buildings. Among these are the county’s three iconic covered bridges, which echo a bygone era when craftsmanship and design were seamlessly woven into even the most practical of structures.
I was also struck by the beauty of the countryside, despite the rain showers and gloomy, overcast day. It was simply spectacular. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Buttonwood Covered Bridge
Most recognize this bridge as Jack’s Hollow Bridge. This picturesque structure gracefully stretches over Blockhouse Creek in Woodward Township. A testament to 19th-century engineering, the bridge, dating to1898, exemplifies the Long King Post truss design, which involves several vertical kingposts supported by intersecting diagonals. At 76 feet long, this bridge bears the scars of time, since its run-in with Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Cogan House Covered Bridge
Taking pride of place over Larrys Creek in Cogan House Township, this bridge stands as a splendid representation of the Burr arch truss design. Constructed in 1877, the Cogan House Covered Bridge spans approximately 94 feet in length and 17.5 feet in width, making it one of Pennsylvania’s longer covered bridges. Remarkably, it still accommodates traffic today, albeit with a weight limit in place.
Frazer Covered Bridge
Often referred to as the Lairdsville Covered Bridge, this historic edifice extends 186 feet over the serene Little Muncy Creek in Moreland Township. Established in 1888, the bridge’s significance extends beyond its function, earning it a rightful spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Its tranquil location amidst a quiet farming valley makes it an idyllic spot for bridge enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
The Allure of Covered Bridges
But what led to the widespread adoption of these bridges? The answers lie in both practicality and aesthetic appeal. Wooden bridges, when left exposed, can deteriorate rapidly. However, by shielding the timber from rain, snow, and sunlight, these structures could serve for up to 80 years or even longer. Beyond longevity, covered bridges provided economic benefits, reduced maintenance costs and ensured stability against natural forces. They also played pivotal community roles, serving as gathering spots and storm shelters.
Deciphering Bridge Designs
Covered bridges come in a variety of designs, each addressing specific engineering challenges. Whether it’s the simple King Post Truss design, the intricate Town Lattice Truss crafted by Ithiel Town, or the robust Burr Arch Truss that combines an arch with multiple kingposts, each style has its unique characteristics. A closer look reveals the bridge’s overall shape, beams, posts, and diagonal arrangements, each a testament to the era’s engineering prowess.
Lycoming County’s covered bridges are more than mere crossings; they are timeless symbols of an era that valued both function and form. A visit promises not just a journey across a creek or river but a journey back in time.
Know Before You Go
There is spotty cell service, especially in the valleys where the bridges tend to be located, so write out directions to your next stop. Each bridge is GPS-able on its own. Head to Frazer Covered Bridge first, as it’s in the opposite direction from the other two. It’ll take about three hours to see (and photograph) all three.
For more information about great things to see and do in Lycoming County, check out the Visitor’s Bureau or check out the articles below:
- Jacoby Falls Hike
- Little League Museum
- Millionaire’s Row
- Rider Park
- Riverfront Park
- Rowley House Museum
- Taber Museum